Introducing Lian Li's PC-90

The majority of the enclosures from Lian Li that we've tested so far have been designed for mini-ITX and micro-ATX builds, but today we have on offer one of their premium full ATX cases, and it's a promising one indeed. Lian Li's PC-90, which they dub "The Hammer," is designed to support HPTX and XL-ATX motherboards while being smaller and lighter than most other enthusiast cases in its class. And while we'd hesitate to call it diminutive, it's definitely smaller than you'd expect.

Lian Li aims to offer a lighter, more austere shell for high performance systems in the PC-90, and we can tell you they've been very successful. Without giving too much away, Lian Li's traditional brushed aluminum shell and accompanying aesthetics meet an old school ATX enclosure design complete with top-mounted power supply in a way that offers an intriguing alternative to the larger, bulkier enclosures we're used to reviewing for this bracket. Here's the brief overview.

Lian Li PC-90 Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor HPTX, E-ATX, XL-ATX, ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX
Drive Bays External 2x 5.25"
Internal 6x 3.5", 6x 2.5"
Cooling Front 2x 140mm intake fan
Rear 1x 120mm exhaust fan
Top 1x 140mm fan mount
Right -
Bottom -
Expansion Slots 10
Front I/O Port 2x USB 3.0, headphone and mic jacks, eSATA
Top I/O Port -
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearance 15.5"/400mm (Expansion Cards), 170mm (CPU HSF), 300mm (PSU)
Weight 14.7 lbs (6.7 kg)
Dimensions 9.1" x 19.9" x 19.3" (230mm x 505mm x 489mm)
Price $200

The PC-90 certainly isn't cheap, but it's most definitely an intriguing design. At just 14.7 pounds it's positively svelte compared to other enthusiast-class enclosures like Cooler Master's Cosmos II or SilverStone's FT02. That light weight owes to the largely aluminum shell and minimal use of steel in the framework. There's also a respectable amount of depth to the case, but as you'll see, that depth is needed.

In and Around the Lian Li PC-90
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  • lucky9 - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    The noise and heat figures are compelling. Agreed the price is at least $50 high.
    Personally I have no use for this design but it seems to be a great one for those that need a large motherboard it a smaller space.

    But I wouldn't trade my K-62 for anything I've ever seen in the same size/price range.
    Reply
  • Veroxious - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    It certainly is a matter of personal taste but as previous posters have pointed out at the price tag money can be better spent elsewhere like on a more powerful GPU / additional GPU.

    I for one would not be able to live with the drives hanging on the side and having cables all over the place. Also the PSU arrangement is less than ideal and a step backwards IMO.

    The main reason I would not buy most Lian Li cases is the absence of a side window. I for one like the ability to the see the hard work I put in putting together my rig and the non-standard accessories in it. While not to everyone's liking I simply love my HAF.
    Reply
  • kevith - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    Great review. I would say, that I don´t find the looks of this cabinet neither pretty nor the opposite. And I don´t think looks are a big deal, if it is not one of the above.

    But performance wise I find it even very interesting. I think the results points towards very good thermal capabilities with more than one video card and/or a SNB-E processor.

    Do you think the thermal performance has a lot to do with the case being made from aluminum? Does the case itself heat up during load?

    Because if it doesn´t, I´d think this could be a very good platform for a cool and quiet case, if one were to add more fans and sound dampening applications to the panels and internal surfaces.
    Reply
  • cyabud - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    I have a PC-9 made of the same materials and it gets slightly warm on the top and side of the case around the CPU. The case has some great features but - like the PC-90 - cable management's a complete joke. Can anyone recommend a stylish and well-designed case that does the job but doesn't look like a spaceship? Reply
  • Observist - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    I also have a PC-9F... with 2 GPU's and 4HDD's and a top-mounted ventilation fan, and I think the cable management is fine. There's not a lot of room behind the MB tray, but aside from that it's the same layout as a Corsair 650D and a bunch of other cases. Not sure what non-joke cable management would look like by your criteria. Cables need to go where they need to go.

    What the PC-90 lacks in cable management, it makes up by getting the HDD's out of the way of the front ventilation fans. Cables impede airflow, but not as much a big HDD cage like in the PC-9F.

    That said, most of the nicer, well-designed, non-spaceship cases are included in this comparison - Silverstone FT02, Antec P280, Corsair 650D. Fractal Design and BitFenix also make some clean-looking cases. Maybe a Corsair 600T... looks slightly obese, but that leaves a lot of room for cabling. CoolerMaster CM690 II isn't too bad either, for an older, less expensive case.
    Reply
  • cyabud - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    I just find it very difficult to get it looking tidy. That said I have a lot of drives in there and a MB with very awkwardly positioned SATA ports, which clearly doesn't help.

    Thanks for the non-spaceship case suggestions. Currently salivating over the Antec P280.
    Reply
  • TerdFerguson - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    An overly kind review, to be sure. I understand that you want to keep those review samples coming in, but this case isn't worth $50. Reply
  • rscoot - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    Hammer Time.

    (can't touch this post)
    Reply
  • burntham77 - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    I am so conflicted when it comes to choosing my next case. I love the elegance of a case like the PC-90, and yet I also crave a case with a side-window so I can see all of my hardware (and the neat cabling job). I yearn for understated, but I also year for gaudiness. Reply
  • Observist - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    Corsair 650D is your answer! It's basically a Lian-Li with a side window. Reply

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